HumanInsight The effects of using telemedicine for introductory bariatric surgery seminars during the COVID-19 pandemic
Surg Endosc. 2022 Oct 5. doi: 10.1007/s00464-022-09640-w. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic required immediate systematic change in healthcare delivery. Many institutions relied on telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits. There is limited data in the bariatric surgery literature to determine how telemedicine impacts patient volume. This study evaluates the effects of using telemedicine for introductory bariatric surgery seminars on patient volume at a single institution.
METHODS: A retrospective review was performed before and after implementing virtual introductory seminars for bariatric surgery patients at a comprehensive metabolic and surgery center. The effect on attendance rates for introductory seminars and completion rates of bariatric surgery was evaluated.
RESULTS: The introductory seminar attendance rate for the in-person/pre-telemedicine period, April 2019 to February 2020, was compared to that of the virtual/post-telemedicine period, June 2020 to April 2021. A total of 836 patients registered for an introductory seminar during the pre-telemedicine period with a 65.79% attendance rate. In the post-telemedicine period, 806 patients registered with a 67.87% attendance rate, which was not statistically different (p = 0.37, 95% CI - 0.03-0.07). Completion rates of bariatric surgery were analyzed using June 2019 to October 2019 as the pre-telemedicine period and June 2020 to October 2020 as the post-telemedicine period. Similarly, there was no difference between the pre-telemedicine surgery rate of 23.43% and post-telemedicine surgery rate of 19.68% (p = 0.31, 95% CI - 0.11-0.04).
CONCLUSION: Despite abruptly transitioning to virtual introductory bariatric seminars, there was no change in attendance rates nor was there a difference in the number of patients progressing through the program and undergoing bariatric surgery at our institution. This demonstrates similar efficacy of telemedicine and in-person introductory seminars for bariatric surgery patients, which supports telemedicine as a promising tool for this patient population in the post-pandemic era.
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